Caroline Garcia is undoubtedly living the best two weeks of her career; with a straight set win against the soon-to-be number one Simona Halep (she will reach the top of the rankings starting from tomorrow), she put her hands on the China Open crown, the first Premier Mandatory and biggest title of her career. Her amazing run immediately followed her conquering of the Premier 5 title in Wuhan, just one week ago, and made her the first player to claim both titles, the biggest of Asian Swing.
The title also allowed her to surpass Johanna Konta, currently on a four-match losing streak, for the eighth and final place in the Porsche Race for Singapore, the only spot still to be assigned. Considering her good form, opposite to Konta’s late struggles, she now has a good chance to close her season with a well-deserved debut at the WTA Finals.
Simona Halep could still be satisfied with her week; on the fourth try this year, she finally won the crucial match that allows her to become world number one; on Monday, she’ll be the 5th player this year to reach the top of the rankings (and the third to reach it for the first time), and the 25th in WTA history.
Garcia breaks to win the first set
Simona Halep seemed to begin in full control, as she broke Garcia to love to start the match. She hasn’t been able to consolidate it, and the Frenchwoman broke back to immediately level the score.
The first break point will remain the only one for Halep in the first set, as Garcia played very solid on her service games - as she has done throughout all the week - without dropping more than two points on serve until the end of the set.
Halep, on the other hand, needed to save only one more break point in the sixth game but held anyway for a 3-3 score. Serving on 4-4, Garcia was forced to 40-40 for the first time in the match, but she didn’t falter and went ahead to hold.
She found a big chance as her opponent was serving to stay in the set; from 15-40 down, the Romanian saved the first set point, but a forehand error gave the second one away, allowing Garcia to book an opening set which had been fully balanced until the last, crucial points.
Garcia holds back Halep, save nine break points and conquers the tie-break
The second set didn’t proceed very differently from the first one. Both players keep staying solid on serve, dictating points with power and aiming for the lines for increasing the rhythm and hitting winners.
Halep’s all-court defense, which she often converted into attack, could hold off Garcia’s powerful strokes, but she could nothing when the Frenchwoman fully dictated the rallies, helped by a very effective serve.
Consequently, none of the players could find a chance for break the balance in the first part of the set.
The only, big chances came for Halep in the seventh game. Thanks to three bad errors from Garcia, Halep gained three break points, the first since the opening game of the match. Back in control of her serve, anyway, Garcia saved all the three, bringing the game to deuce.
More chances came for Halep. A help from a net cord gave her the fourth one, but Garcia saved it with her serve once again, as she saved the fifth one right away. The sixth one, Halep lost with an unforced error, as she lost the eighth, probably the worst one, hitting a weak second serve’s return in the net. The seventh and ninth one were saved by Garcia with good first serves, and after that, the Frenchwoman finally got herself a chance to hold. An error from Halep eventually closed a game that could’ve crucially changed the flow of the match.
Back on serve, Halep held to love, proving that she stayed mentally solid despite the big chances missed. Garcia, on the other hand, didn’t gift her opponent any more chances, leading into a set tie-break.
A mini-break at the start give the lead to the Frenchwoman; Halep had her chances to counterattack, but couldn’t take them, and she eventually hit two backhand errors in a row to give Garcia three championship points. Another error from the Romanian signed the end of the match, giving Garcia the win with a 6-4, 7-6(3) scoreline.
It’s the sixth singles title of Garcia’s career, who has started 2017 with a record of 14-11 before French Open and is currently on an 11-match winning streak. She will make a top-10 debut on Monday, as world number nine.